The school board of Brookfield-LaGrange Park District 95 has decided to back an administration plan to reconfigure the space of the S.E. Gross School library, holding off for now on a full-scale renovation of the space.
As part of the district’s 2016-17 budget, the school board is expected to approve about $40,000 for the S.E. Gross library makeover, which essentially will divide the space into three zones — one for students, one for book stacks and one for a classroom-type space for collaborative, multimedia learning.
“We can make this a more usable space for students and teachers,” said S.E. Gross School Principal Ryan Evans, who walked school board members through the library concept during the board’s committee of the whole meeting on April 28.
The plan is more of a stop-gap measure for the library — a long, narrow space on the third floor of the middle school — until the school board ultimately decides how a multimedia center/library fits into the middle school curriculum and just what it will look like as part of a planned major renovation of the building.
Any major renovation of the library would be contingent on a referendum being passed by voters that would also include funding for a new grade-level center on the middle school campus and renovations at Brook Park School in LaGrange Park.
The school board has been pondering the future of the S.E. Gross School library for the past couple of years, after the retirement of its longtime librarian, Ingrid Niinemae. She was replaced by a paraprofessional and the library still checks out books to students, but the space is outdated and its long, narrow shape unwieldy.
“We wanted to figure out how to reconfigure it to maximize the existing space as room becomes less and less available at S.E. Gross,” said Superintendent Mark Kuzniewski in a separate interview.
Kuzniewski said that even though the new library arrangement might be temporary, the furniture and book shelves being ordered can be incorporated into any future plan.
“In my mind, it’s money well spent to maximize a learning space that’s outdated and not functional,” Kuzniewski said.
The hope is for the rearranged library space to be operational from Day 1 of the 2016-17 school year, though the space may not be ready immediately, depending on lead time needed for the new furniture. Evans said administrators are still finalizing what exactly to include in the plan.
Kuzniewski said a part-time paraprofessional will continue to staff the library at the middle school, and that the school board will be discussing how that position will function moving forward should the library undergo a significant renovation in the future.